“You never liked me at college,” says the character Norine in The Group. “None of your crowd did.” How many of us have said the same thing, to ourselves if to no one else? How many of us have felt betrayed by that mythic essence? How many of us have lain awake at night in fear that our professors were on to our fraudulence, that our friends secretly hated us, that the admissions office let us in by mistake? How many of us regularly revisit Vassar in our dreams, wherein we retrace our steps through the quad as if searching for a lost item, wherein we have the nagging feeling that we’ve forgotten to do something, though we don’t know what it is?

All of us, I suspect. Mythic qualities tend to have that effect. Vassar captures the imagination even as it breaks the heart. And isn’t that what keeps us coming back for more?

–Mary McCarthy, The Group


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